What Do Global Health Practitioners Think about Decolonizing Global Health?

Ann Glob Health. 2022 Jul 27;88(1):61. doi: 10.5334/aogh.3714. eCollection 2022.


The growing awareness of colonialism's role in global health partnerships between HICs and LMICs and the associated calls for decolonization in global health has led to discussion for a paradigm shift that would lead to new ways of engagement and partnerships, as well as an acknowledgement that colonialism, racism, sexism, and capitalism contribute to inequity. While there is general agreement among those involved in global health partnerships that the current system needs to be made more equitable, suggestions for how to address the issue of decolonization vary greatly, and moving from rhetoric to reform is complicated. Based on a comprehensive (but not exhaustive) review of the literature, there are several recurring themes that should be addressed in order for the inequities in the current system to be changed. The degree to which decolonization of global health will be successful depends on how the global health community in both the HICs and LMICs move forward to discuss these issues. Specifically, as part of a paradigm shift, attention needs to be paid to creating a more equal and equitable representation of researchers in LMICs in decision-making, leadership roles, authorship, and funding allocations. There needs to be agreement in defining basic principles of best practices for global partnership, including a universal definition of 'decolonization of global health'; the extent to which current policies allow the perpetuation of power imbalance between HICs and LMICs; a set of principles, best practices, and models for equitable sharing of funds and institutional costs among partners; a mechanism to monitor progress prospectively the equitable sharing of credits (e.g., leadership, authorship), including a set of principles, best practices, and models; and, a mechanism to monitor progress prospectively the extent to which decolonialization will contribute to strengthening institutional capacity in the LMIC institutions.

Keywords: decolonialization; global health; global partnerships.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Research Personnel